BIBLE STUDY


Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

THE CHURCH'S MINISTRY TO CHURCH OFFICERS
(1 Timothy 5:17-25)

17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."
19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.
21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.
22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
23 No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
24 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.
25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

 
[C]hurch leaders must exercise discernment lest they create more problems than they solve. Sometimes trouble comes because we believe reports that cannot be verified, or we show partiality, or we make decisions before getting the facts. Not every church member has a character as good as his or her reputation, so take care! - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: The Devil
A woman had the reputation of always being able to say something good about everyone, no matter how worthless the person might be. When asked what she could say good about the devil, she replied, “Well, he’s always on the job.” [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 5:17 - Proper Regard for Faithful Elders (vv. 17-18)
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Elder/Overseer Functions

Local church leaders should govern properly, providing adequate remuneration and protection as well as proper discipline. (see 1 Timothy 5:17-20) [ref]

The Ephesian church " had been torn apart by the false teachers, and much of this letter is aimed at putting the pieces back together. It is essential that he restore the church's confidence in its leadership, and he has already begun in chapter 3. The faithful elders needed to be distinguished from the unfaithful. The unfaithful needed to be disciplined, but in fairness. And some of the leadership had to be replaced. This task must have been first on Timothy's list of things to do (1 Timothy 1:3-4), for the unity and mission of the church depended upon it. The passage before us contains practical principles for the regulation and maintenance of a church's leadership." [ref]

Specifically, this portion of Paul's letter provides Timothy with "five qualities which are needed by Christian leaders in their dealings with others for whom they are responsible: appreciation (affirming outstanding performance) [1 Timothy 5:17-18], fairness (not listening to unsubstantiated accusations) [1 Timothy 5:19-20], impartiality (avoiding all favouritism) [1 Timothy 5:21], caution (not reaching hasty decisions) [1 Timothy 5:22-23], and discernment (looking beyond the outward appearance to the heart) [1 Timothy 5:24-25]. Whenever these principles are in operation, mistakes will be avoided, the church will be preserved in peace and love, and God’s name will be protected from dishonour." [ref]

elders who rule well (1 Timothy 5:17)
Simply put, the "elders" were the "mature believers responsible for managing and teaching in the church." [ref] Earlier Paul referred to "the office of overseer" (1 Timothy 3:1). "Overseer" emphasizes the work that is done, while "elder" emphasizes the honor that is due. [ref]

"Rule well" refers to providing effective leadership [ref], which would include governing or presiding with "wisdom, ability, and loving faithfulness." [ref]

double honor (1 Timothy 5:17)
"Double" does not mean literally twice as much; it is figurative language for "extra," and it is Paul's way of arguing "for a sufficient or appropriate recompense." [ref] (also: [ref] [ref]) "In the case of those who labor in preaching and teaching, their whole time is thus devoted, and they are deserving of compensation from the church." [ref]

As in the case of the true widows (1 Timothy 5:3), here "honor" refers to a combination of respect and monetary support:

  • "honor plus honorarium" [ref] [ref]
  • "respectful submission to authority and remuneration" [ref]
  • "both respect and remuneration" [ref] [ref]
  • "esteem for the office held, as well as financial remuneration compensating for the loss of income sustained in fulfilling their duties" [ref]
  • "(1) respect for ruling well and (2) adequate pay for their diligent care of the church" [ref]
  • "the honor of the position as well as financial remuneration" [ref]
  • "'honor' and 'honorarium' or 'compensation'" [ref]

"Faithful church leaders should be supported and appreciated. Too often they are targets for criticism because the congregation has unrealistic expectations." [ref]

Regarding financial support, one commentator notes well: "Paul took it for granted that the pastorate was a stipendiary ministry. As in Old Testament days the priests were supported ‘so that they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD’ (2 Ch. 31:4), so in New Testament days pastors should be supported so that they can devote themselves to the work of the gospel. True, Paul insisted on earning his own living by tent-making, but he also explained that his was a special case for special reasons (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:4ff). Elsewhere he strongly defended the right of teachers to receive financial support (e.g. Gal. 6:6)." [ref]

Because their synagogue counterparts were not paid, some believe that the elders in the early Church were likewise not "paid or salaried." [ref] A mediating position "draws a distinction between itinerant and local ministers, and argues that the former ‘had the right to expect support, certainly hospitality and probably a regular income from the church to which they were ministering’, whereas local elders were rewarded on a much more informal basis." [ref]

especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17)
"Especially" "[m]eans 'chiefly' or 'particularly.' Implicit is the idea that some elders will work harder than others and be more prominent in ministry." [ref] "Work hard" "literally means 'work to the point of fatigue or exhaustion.' The Gr. word [kipiaō] stresses the effort behind the work more than the amount of work." [ref]

One source says that "preaching" is proclamation and "teaching" is application. [ref] Another says that "['preaching'] emphasizes proclamation, along with exhortation and admonition, and calls for a heart response to the Lord," while "['teaching'] is an essential fortification against heresy and puts more stress on instruction." [ref]

"Leaders of the church may divide among themselves the various tasks such as preaching, teaching, and administration according to their spiritual gifts." [ref] Thus Paul may be drawing a distinction between those elders who toil at "preaching and teaching" and those elders who merely preside. [ref] On the other hand, since the ability to teach is mandated for every elder (1 Timothy 3:2) but the ability to preach is not, the distinction could be between those who teach only and those who both preach and teach.

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PAUL'S WORLD: PASTORS & PASTORAL CARE

The apostles told all Christians to watch over each other with loving care and prayer (Gal. 6:1, 2; Heb. 12:15, 16; 1 John 3:16–18; 5:16), but they also appointed in each congregation guardians, called “elders” (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), who would look after the people as shepherds look after sheep (Acts 20:28–31; 1 Pet. 5:1–4), leading them by example (1 Pet. 5:3) away from all that is harmful into all that is good. By virtue of their role, the elders (presbyters) are also called “shepherds” (“pastors,” Eph. 4:11) and “overseers” (Acts 20:28, cf. Acts 20:17; “bishops,” Titus 1:7, cf. Titus 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1, 2), and are spoken of in other terms that express leadership (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). The congregation, for its part, is to acknowledge the God-given authority of its leaders and to follow their lead (Heb. 13:17).

This pattern is already present in the Old Testament, where God is the shepherd of Israel (Ps. 80:1) and kings, prophets, priests, and elders (local rulers) are called to act as His agents in an under-shepherd role (Num. 11:24–30; Deut. 27:1; Ezra 5:5; 6:14; 10:8; Ps. 77:20; Jer. 23:1–4; Ezek. 34; Zech. 11:16, 17). In the New Testament, Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–30) is also the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), and the elders are His subordinates. The apostle Peter calls himself an “elder” under Christ (1 Pet. 5:1), remembering perhaps that shepherding was the specific task Jesus gave him when restoring him to ministry (John 21:15–17).

Some but not all elders teach (1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:9; Heb. 13:7), and Eph. 4:11–16 says that Christ gave the church “pastors and teachers” to equip everyone for service through the discovery and development of each person’s spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:12–16). In the congregational leadership envisaged by the apostles, there may have been teachers who were not elders, as well as elders who did not teach, and also those who both ruled and taught.

The pastoral role of elders demands mature and stable Christian character, and a well-ordered personal life (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). The elder who serves faithfully will be rewarded (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:4; cf. 1 Tim. 4:7, 8).

- The Reformation Study Bible [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:18 - Proper Regard for Faithful Elders (vv. 17-18)

the Scripture says (1 Timothy 5:18)
Paul calls two witnesses in citing Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7. [ref] He presents this same truth in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:9, 14). [ref] [ref] As one commentator explains: "Neither quotation is particularly flattering to presbyters, since in the first they are likened to threshing oxen, and in the second to farm labourers. But Paul’s purpose in employing these models is not to depreciate the pastoral ministry, but rather to emphasize that it is hard work, and that hard work performed conscientiously deserves to be rewarded. True, a presbyter is not to be ‘a lover of money’ (1 Timothy 3:3), and [1 Timothy 5:17-18] are not intended to stimulate covetousness. But they do say that good work is to be appreciated, and that appreciation may quite properly take a tangible, pecuniary form." [ref]

While Paul himself "reserved the right not to receive support from a congregation (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:15-23; 1 Thessalonians 2:9), he clearly believed and repeatedly taught that a congregation did not have the right not to offer it (cf. Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:14)." [ref]

"It is also very significant that this is a case of one NT writer (Paul) affirming the inspiration of another by referring to Luke’s writing as 'Scripture' (cf. 2 Pet. 3:15, 16), which shows the high view that the early church took of NT Scripture." [ref]

NOT MUZZLE THE OX (1 Timothy 5:18)
As one commentator explains:

 
The picture is that of a threshing-floor: a circular piece of level ground, exposed to the wind. Sometimes it is a flat rock on top of a hill. The sheaves of grain have been unbound and lie on this floor, arranged in circles. Oxen are driven over them, so that by the trampling of their hoofs the ripe grain may be shaken out of the ears (Hosea 10:11; Micah 4:13). Or, for the same purpose the oxen may be harnessed to a rough sledge on which the driver stands or sits, as he guides the oxen around and around (Judges 8:7; Isaiah 28:27; 41:15). This sledge or drag is a kind of sled consisting of two heavy boards, fastened side by side, and curved upward in front. To the bottom of it sharp pieces of stone are attached, to loosen the kernels of grain.

Now cruel pagans would at times muzzle such threshing oxen, but Jehovah had distinctly forbidden Israel to do this. The purpose of this injunction was that men might see the kindness of God; particularly, that they might discern this basic principle, namely, that to every worker (be that worker an ox, a common laborer, or a minister of the gospel) God has given the right to partake of the fruits of his work. (The context in Deuteronomy deals with men, not with animals. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:9-10.) In the present instance this would mean that “those who proclaim the gospel should make their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). [ref]
 

Needless to say, this does not alleviate the need for financial accountability. "Whereas the ox could dip into the corn, the minister may not dip into the church's funds. The Scriptures Paul quoted cannot be used to argue against the need for integrity and openness in the handling of finances or reporting expenses. Wise churches and ministers create systems that avoid both the temptation and the appearance of impropriety in financial matters." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:19 - Admissible Evidence

Here Paul speaks of disciplining church leaders. For the NT perspective on disciplining church members, see Matthew 18:15–18; Romans 16:17–18; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:6–11; Galatians 6:1–3; 2 Thessalonians 3:6–16; 2 Timothy 2:23–26; Titus 3:10; and 2 John 9–11. [ref]

"When a leader errs, the rest of the leadership must discipline the offender. Given the situation that existed in Ephesus, it is easy to imagine that tempers would have run high. A purge mentality may have set in among those who had resisted the false teachers, leading them to make every effort to root out any elders even remotely associated with the opposition. Then again, pockets of adherents to the false teaching may have brought false accusations against the faithful leaders. In any case, while discipline of the leadership was not to be avoided, it was to be executed carefully and fairly." [ref] (also: [ref])

Do not receive an accusation against an elder (1 Timothy 5:19)
"[T]hose who correct others always have enemies, and discipline must be based on fact rather than gossip." [ref] "It is sad when churches disobey the Word and listen to rumors, lies, and gossip. Many a godly pastor has been defeated in his life and ministry in this way, and some have even resigned from the ministry." [ref]

"Since Timothy had the supervision over the churches, every accusation against an elder would be brought to him." [ref] This is a practical regulation that "is necessary for the protection of pastoral leaders, who are vulnerable to slander." [ref] The fact that "receive" is in the present tense "may imply that inadequate evidence was being accepted as sufficient." [ref]

As one commentator explains well:

 
Timothy is not to receive an accusation against an elder so as to take further steps about it, make an investigation, hear even the accused elder himself regarding the accusation, except on the basis of two or three witnesses. The honor due to the office demands this protection, for even a charge of which an elder is acquitted nevertheless damages his office and his work to some degree. Paul’s purpose is to have no case taken up in which the verdict will after all have to be acquittal; also, and in the very first place, to prevent anybody from bringing up such a case. This is to be a special safeguard that is to be thrown around the good name of the office and its incumbents in the interest of the church itself. Ordinarily the witnesses are cited at the time of the trial; in the case of an elder they must be cited at the time the accusation is preferred, otherwise this accusation is not to be received. [ref]
 

two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19)
This had been the standard since the days of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; cf. Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1). [ref] [ref] Paul's "[d]irect quotation of the OT was intended to ensure that the authority of the instructions and the gravity of the situation were properly understood." [ref]

It is a sad and sinful situation that many local churches continue to be plagued by "strong-willed, self-seeking individuals who would use their influence and even underhanded means to shape others' opinions about one person or another. It falls to the leadership to ensure that as far as possible this injustice is avoided." [ref]

One commentator points out how

 
[i]n later times Church regulations laid it down that the two witnesses must be Christian, for it would have been easy for a malicious heathen to fabricate a false charge against a Christian elder in order to discredit him, and through him to discredit the Church. In the early days, the Church authorities did not hesitate to apply discipline, and Theodore of Mopseuestia, one of the early fathers, points out how necessary this regulation was, because the elders were always liable to be disliked and were specially open to malicious attack "due to the retaliation by some who had been rebuked by them for sin." A man who had been disciplined might well seek to get his own back by maliciously charging an elder with some irregularity or some sin. [ref]
 

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GRIEVANCES & ACCUSATIONS

Wherever a group of people work together, conflicts occur. The church and its leaders are not exempt from sin, faults, and mistakes. But criticism may arise for wrong reasons or impure motives—minor imperfections, failure to meet someone's expectations, personality clashes. Thus Paul called upon the Old Testament stipulation that accusations should not even be heard unless two or three witnesses confirmed them (see Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1). But just because there were two or three witnesses doesn't mean the accused was automatically guilty. A thorough investigation of charges was still required. Elders needed to have the respect and confidence of their congregation, but by their very presence and accessibility at the head of a church they would be the first targets for malicious accusations. Paul wisely instructed that accusations should not be considered proven until they were confirmed by two or three witnesses.

There are few patterns more shameful in church history than the incidences in which victims have been silenced or ignored when their charges against ministers were valid. For the protections of both clergy and congregation members, every church ought to have a well-thought-through and thoroughly discussed system for handling grievances and accusations against the ministerial staff. The preservation of anonymity, the required verifications, and the ways in which such matters will be settled should be spelled out for all to understand.

- Life Application Bible Commentary: New Testament [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:20 - Actual Sin ... Appropriate Discipline

rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20)
Because theirs is a public position, unrepentant elders are to be rebuked or censured publicly. [ref] [ref] "The public rebuke of a sinning elder is to serve as a warning to other believers. God’s discipline is consistent from leadership to laity. Sin is a serious matter in the lives of believers, especially those in leadership (see 1 Pet. 4:17). When leaders sin with impunity, church members might erroneously start justifying their own sins." [ref]

all ... the rest (1 Timothy 5:20)
This refers to the rest of the elders [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref], and/or the entire church. [ref] [ref]

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THE STANDARD FOR DETERMINING SIN

Of course, these rules would apply in any case in which an elder willfully transgressed the revealed will of God in matters of faith and practice. But the standard for determining sin must be Scripture, and areas of faith and practice in which opinions differ because the teaching of Scripture is not clear or is capable of more than one reasonable interpretation ought not to be so categorized. The purpose of this process was to deal with actual, identifiable sin.

This raises a serious question for us: Granted that divergent views on certain issues (separation from the world, eschatology, gifts of the Spirit, the role of women in the church) may ill-suit one to ministry in one church or denomination or another, ought such divergence to be met with disciplinary measures? Or was Martin Luther, whom the Catholic Church branded a heretic, right to attribute to the devil Zwingli's interpretation of the Lord's Supper (that Christ meant that the bread and the wine are only symbols of his body and blood) and label the Swiss reformer a fanatic? To bring this kind of debate into the context of these instructions about discipline is a dangerous thing. It is equally dangerous to fail to discipline Christians known to be involved in actual sin: sexual immorality, marital infidelity, dishonesty, spreading rumors, promulgating false doctrine.

- Philip H. Towner [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Comfort
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable but to make us comforters. - Alexander Nowell [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:21 - Absolute Impartiality
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Making Wise Decisions

When appointing spiritual leaders in the church, we are to develop a system that is fair, equitable, and discerning. (see 1 Timothy 5:21-25) [ref]

I solemnly charge you (1 Timothy 5:21)
Paul is acting "under the very eye and with the full approval of God" as he places Timothy under oath. [ref]

God, Christ, and the angels will serve as witnesses either for or against Timothy, depending on whether or not he obeys Paul -- possibly a reference to the last judgment (2 Timothy 4:1) [ref] [ref] (cf. Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Revelation 14:10). [ref]

Notice how "Paul does not mention the souls of the departed saints, for not they but God’s angels are in intercourse with the church on earth." [ref]

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ANGELS

OLD TESTAMENT
The angels

The Hebrew word mal'âk means “messenger,” “representative,” or “angel.” It is used of both human and supernatural messengers, and the context will usually determine which is intended. The mission of a mal'âk is to (1) carry a message, (2) fulfill a special, specific commission, and/or (3) represent the one sending him.

The supernatural beings called angels are also referred to by other names. They are called “sons of God” (KJV), a phrase meaning direct creations of God (Job 1:6; 2:1; and possibly Ge 6:2–4). They are also called “mighty ones” in Ps 29:1 and “heavenly beings” in Ps 89:6, as well as “holy ones” in Ps 89:5, 7; Da 4:13, 17, 23; 8:13 (twice).

The angels were created by God and were witnesses to the creation of the material universe (Job 38:7). They serve as members of God’s eternal court (Job 1:6; Isa 6:2–4), and they are exhorted to praise him (Ps 103:20–21; 148:2).

There are different orders and different types of these powerful beings. The cherubim, for example, have traits of both humans and animals (Ge 3:24; Ps 18:10; Isa 6:2; Eze 1:5–14; 10:19–22). One powerful archangel, Gabriel, is identified by name four times in Scripture (Da 8:16; 9:21; Lk 1:19, 26).

Satan was created an angel and named Lucifer. The NT tells us what the OT hints at. Satan led a great rebellion in the unseen universe and was followed by many of the angels who fell with him.

The role of angels in the OT
While angels are not a major theme of the OT, there are many indications of their importance to sacred history. Angels were associated with God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. God promised Israel, “I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared” (Ex 23:20). On a similar mission of protection an angel aided Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Da 3:28) and Daniel in the lions’ den (6:22). One of the most graphic OT stories of angelic protection is found in 2 Ki 6. The king of Aram had sent an army to capture the prophet Elisha. Elisha’s servant stepped outside one morning to find the town of Dothan surrounded by an enemy force. He ran in terror to the prophet. Elisha quieted his fears and then asked God to open the servant’s eyes. Suddenly the servant saw “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (6:17). An angelic army was present to protect the Lord’s prophet.

In addition, angels were involved in God’s dramatic judgments on sinful people (Sodom, Ge 19:1; a plague decimating Israel, 2 Sa 24:17; 1 Ch 21:15; destruction of an Assyrian army, 2 Ch 32:21; Isa 37:36). Abraham reassured his servant by saying that God would send an angel to help the servant get a wife for Isaac (Ge 24:7, 40). Angels clearly are given assignments to guard and guide believers and to carry out God’s judgments on sin. Also, the “angel of the Lord” is intimately linked with revelation.

The angel of the Lord
A number of references in the OT single out a being identified as “the angel of the Lord.” This distinctive personage is especially active at critical times in OT history and is identified when contact with angels involves revelation of some special message from God to man.

The angel of the Lord is linked with key events in the lives of each of the patriarchs (Abraham and Isaac, Ge 22:11, 15–18; Jacob, Ge 31:11). The angel of the Lord called Moses to his mission (Ex 3), appeared to Gideon (Jdg 6), empowered Samson (Jdg 13), strengthened Elijah (1 Ki 19), and was the agent of revelation in a prophecy about Israel’s future (Zec 1). He can be called on to protect (Ps 34:7) and to do battle against implacable enemies (Ps 35:5–6).

There has been much speculation about the identity of the angel of the Lord. Many suggest that he is actually the Second Person of the Trinity, appearing before the Incarnation. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the angel of the Lord not only serves as the agent of revelation in most contexts where he appears; he also speaks as the God of the covenant (Jdg 2:1–4). He is often viewed as God by those to whom he appears (Ge 16:9–13; Ex 3:2, 6; Jdg 13:20–22). Two conclusions seem evident: no clear distinction can be made between this angel and Yahweh, and where human beings encounter God in the OT, they meet him not in unmasked glory but in the person of the angel of the Lord.

What we are shown [in the OT] is at best a glimpse -- a hint of wonders hidden from us, trapped as we are in the material universe. But what we are shown is compelling evidence that there is a spiritual universe that exists alongside the universe we know through our senses. The angels and other spiritual beings are real. And our God is the ultimate ruler of the invisible as well as of the visible.

NEW TESTAMENT
The NT assumes all that the OT teaches about angels and goes on to add fresh information. The NT word angelos also means “messenger.” It is used some 175 times. The activity of angels in the NT concentrated around the birth of Christ (Mt 1–2; Lk 1–2) and will again be prominent at Jesus’ return and the judgment to take place then (cf. Mt 13, 24–25, 1 Th 1, Rev).

Jesus’ statement that those raised from the dead are “like the angels” (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25; Lk 20:36) simply affirms that, like angels, the resurrected are not subject to the limitations of mortal life on earth.

The angels, good and evil
The NT makes explicit what is hinted at in the OT. Satan leads a host of angels (Mt 25:41). Like him, they fell from their original state; they choose not to “keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home” (Jude 6) and as a result are condemned to eternal judgment (also 2 Pe 2:4). Many believe that fallen angels are the demons that are spoken of in the NT. The angels who remained committed in their allegiance to God continue to serve him and carry out the missions they are assigned.

The role of angels in the NT
As noted above, the NT associates angels closely with the first and second comings of Jesus. In the meanwhile, they are “all ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). Angels seem to have a special ministry in relation to children (Mt 18:10). An angel was instrumental in releasing Peter from prison (Acts 12) and in preparing the way for the conversion of Cornelius (Ac 10–11). Most references to the present ministry of angels, however, are oblique, and little attention is paid in the NT to angels. When believers at Colosse turned aside to follow a heresy that stressed special honor given angels as divine intermediaries, Paul sent a stern warning (Col 2). Jesus came in person into man’s world and in the full majesty of his deity he brought us life. Jesus freed us from sin’s deadly grip so that we might share through him the fullness of all that God has for us. Angels in the unseen world are all under Jesus, “who is the head over every power and authority” (Col 2:10). Jesus, not angels, is the focus of our faith. He is the one in whom we find fulfillment (Col 3:1–4).

Jesus and the angels
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, ranks far above the angels by virtue of his nature (Php 2:6; Heb 1:4–14). In the Incarnation, Jesus took on human nature. In the Resurrection, Jesus the God-Man took his place as Lord, being set in authority over angelic beings of every rank and title (Eph 1:20–22; Php 2:9–11; Col 2:10–11). The superiority of Jesus to angels is developed in the first chapter of Hebrews. This book was written to converted Jewish believers who were steeped in OT lore and needed to be reminded that Jesus and the new covenant he inaugurated were superior to the system that existed under the old (Mosaic) covenant. The writer of Hebrews begins by comparing Jesus with angels, because the angels were viewed by the first-century Jew as mediators of revelation and as higher beings who deserve great respect. The writer launches his argument by affirming Jesus as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3), that is, as God himself. The new revelation is given, not by angels, but by the God of the angels!

The superiority of Jesus is demonstrated by the following facts: (1) God calls Jesus “Son” -- a title not shared with angels (Heb 1:5); (2) the angels offer the Son worship (Heb 1:6); (3) whereas angels are referred to as servants, Jesus is given a throne and a kingdom (Heb 1:7–8); (4) the angels were witnesses to the Creation, but Jesus both shaped and will outlast all of creation (Heb 1:10–12; cf. Job 38:7; Pr 8); and (5) Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand, while angels are serving saved human beings (Heb 1:13–14). Since Jesus as the Son of God is so vastly superior to the angels, who were communicators of the old revelation (Heb 2:2), it is clear that the new revelation must be vastly superior to the old. The Jewish convert thus can rest secure in his Christian faith.

Humanity and the angels
It is clear from the Bible that angels are superior to human beings in many ways. As direct creations of God, these beings have unlimited lifetimes and unusual powers. Yet the writer to the Hebrews points out, in awed tones, that “it is not to angels that he [God] has subjected the world to come” (Heb 2:5). Jesus chose to share our humanity so that he might free us from sin’s grip. “Surely it is not angels he helps,” the writer says in wonder, “but Abraham’s descendants” (Heb 2:16). Alive now in Jesus, we will be brought to glory and lifted far above the angels.

Angels, then, are not only God’s ministers, assigned to serve the heirs of salvation; they are also eager witnesses to all that God is doing in this world (Lk 15:10; 1 Co 11:10; 1 Ti 3:16). Ultimately human beings will be called on to judge the angels (1 Co 6:3).
What we glimpse about angels is intriguing and stimulates speculation. But the thrust of the OT and NT is clear. Human beings, not angels, are the focus of God’s concern. In return, God invites us to fix our thoughts and our faith on Jesus -- not on angels. We can trust Jesus as Lord to supervise the unseen universe for his good purposes and for our benefit. We can concentrate our efforts on coming to better know and love the one who truly is Lord of all.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

without bias, doing nothing in a (spirit of) partiality (1 Timothy 5:21)
Paul's charge to Timothy "is to keep these instructions, namely the principles governing the treatment of elders, which he has just outlined in [1 Timothy 5:17–20], and to do so with absolute fairness and without any taint of injustice. Two negatives are emphasized. The first is without partiality [NASB: 'without bias'], literally ‘apart from pre-judgment’ (prokrima), that is, without jumping to conclusions of either guilt or innocence. And the second negative injunction is to do nothing out of favouritism [NASB: 'doing nothing in a spirit of partiality']. In the work of a bishop, superintendent or other Christian leader one of the worst sins is favouritism, and one of the most vital virtues is impartiality." [ref]

As another commentator notes:

 
[T]he two phrases that command impartiality take up a dominant theme in Scripture. The judgment of God is said to be completely impartial (2 Chron 19:7; Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; Jas 2:1; 1 Pet 1:17; compare Sirach 35:12). So strong was this belief in God's impartiality that it became a requirement that God's people reflect it as they discharged leadership duties. This applied doubly to leaders of the community, such as the judges whom Jehoshaphat appointed (2 Chron 19:7), whose role was to represent God among the people. It is quite possible that Paul had this Old Testament story in mind, since the two verbs that appear in the Greek Old Testament, "keep" and "do," also occur here. In any case, impartiality is a requirement in the discharge of church leadership duties, because church leaders are God's representatives among the people. [ref]
 

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1 TIMOTHY 5:22 - Careful Selection of Elders (vv. 22-25)

lay hands upon (1 Timothy 5:22)
This "refers to ordination or official installation of someone as an elder." [ref] (also: [ref]) It is "[t]he ceremony that affirmed a man’s suitability for and acceptance into public ministry as an elder/pastor/overseer. This came from the OT practice of laying hands on a sacrificial animal to identify with it (Ex. 29:10, 15, 19; Lev. 4:15; cf. Num. 8:10; 27:18–23; Deut. 34:9; Matt. 19:15; Acts 8:17, 18; 9:17; Heb. 6:2)." [ref]

(too) hastily ... share (responsibility for) the sins of others (1 Timothy 5:22)
This refers to ordaining an elder. "(Too) hastily" "refers to proceeding with this ceremony without a thorough investigation and preparation period to be certain of the man’s qualifications (as in 3:1–7)." [ref] The issue "is sin or tendencies that lead to sin, and a sloppy assessment will implicate the examiner or examining committee in the leader's sin. Consequently, if the well-being of the church is not enough to ensure careful attention to the process, the thought of personally sharing in the sin of another is added." [ref]

Timothy "must see to it that no unfit man is ever to be chosen for the holy office and offered for ordination. The man must have the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:2, etc. Due time must be taken to verify the fact that he has them." [ref] (also: [ref])

Paul's counsel also applies to restoring a disciplined church member. [ref] [ref] "The laying on of hands always signifies identification. The saint, upon forsaking his sin, is again identified with the local church. ... A hasty reconciliation tempts the offender to suppose that his offence cannot have been so very serious after all; and smooths the way to a repetition of the sin." [ref]

As one source explains more fully:

 
In the early Church it was the custom to lay hands on a penitent sinner who had given proof of his repentance and had returned to the fold of the Church. It is laid down: "As each sinner repents, and shows the fruits of repentance, lay hands on him, while all pray for him." Eusebius tells us that it was the ancient custom that repentant sinners should be received back with the laying on of hands and with prayer. If that be the meaning here, it will be a warning to Timothy not to be too quick to receive back the man who has brought disgrace on the Church; to wait until he has shown that his penitence is genuine, and that he is truly determined to mould his life to fit his penitent professions. That is not for a moment to say that such a man is to be held at arms' length and treated with suspicion; he has to be treated with all sympathy and with all help and guidance in his period of probation. But it is to say that membership of the Church is never to be treated lightly, and that a man must show his penitence for the past and his determination for the future, before he is received, not into the fellowship of the Church, but into its membership. The fellowship of the Church exists to help such people redeem themselves, but its membership is for those who have truly pledged their lives to Christ. [ref]
 

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A THEOLOGY OF SEPARATION

This concept of sharing in the sin of another (whether by tacit approval or by apathetic failure to take a stand) rests on an important theological premise. We might call this a "theology of separation," though we must develop it with balance.

God called his people to be separate from the sinful nations, where separation had geographical and religious implications (Isaiah 52:11; Jer 51:45; Rev 18:4), and that call was fundamental to the formation of Israel (Gen 12:1). In the New Testament the concept of separation develops into the dialectical call to be "in the world but not of the world" (Jn 17:15-18; 1 Cor 5:9-11). Separation now calls the believer and the church to resist conformity with the world not by a physical withdrawal from it, which would make mission impossible, but rather by a spiritual transformation that brings an understanding of God's will and prepares one for critical evaluation of the world's thoughts and ways (Rom 12:2; 1 Jn 2:15-17).

The implications of conformity are serious not simply for the church's well-being but for its standing before God. Revelation 18:4 suggests that conformity with the world is not only unfortunate but culpable, for it will lead to judgment. Equally grave is the careless appointment to the church's leadership of one whose sin ought to have meant disqualification, or turning a blind eye or tolerating sin that is later discovered in a leader.

- Philip H. Towner [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:23 - Careful Selection of Elders (vv. 22-25)

use a little wine ... stomach ... frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23)
Of the seven times Paul mentions "wine" in his writings (not including "drink"), this is the most positive (Romans 14:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:3, 8; 5:23; Titus 1:7; 2:3).

"Perhaps drinking water of poor quality (water did not come clear and clean from the tap in those days) had led to Timothy's stomach problem and frequent illnesses, so he should stop drinking only water. Paul's counsel here was to make use of alcohol for its medicinal value." [ref] (also: [ref])

There are several possible reasons for Paul's counsel: [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref]

  • Paul did not want Timothy to miconstrue his warning against sin (1 Timothy 5:22) as a prohibition against any/all alcohol.
  • Timothy's physical ailments could have been stress-related. "Timothy had an awesome task that must have created unusual tension in this young man who had a tendency to be intimidated. Furthermore, he probably felt pressure not to fail his mentor, and he also felt incredibly accountable 'before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels' (1 Timothy 5:21)." [ref]
  • Timothy's physical ailments could/would impair his judgment.
  • Timothy was avoiding all wine in order to avoid even the appearance of being a drunkard.
  • Timothy was abstaining from all wine in order to set a good example for the elders.

It should also be noted that Paul's advice is not an endorsement for social drinking. While "the Bible does not demand total abstinence, it does denounce drunkenness." [ref]

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WINE IN THE BIBLE

Old Testament and Wine
The evidence ... suggests that wine in the OT was not mixed with water and was looked on with favor when taken in moderation. Judges 9:13 presents wine as that “which cheers God and men.” Psalm 104:15 portrays wine similarly, “And wine which makes man’s heart glad” (cf. also Est 1:10; Eccl 10:19; Is 55:1, 2; Zec 10:7). The temperate use of wine was a normal and accepted part of life (Gn 14:18; Jgs 19:19; 1 Sm 16:20). Levitical priests in service at the temple (Lv 10:8, 9), Nazirites (Nm 6:3), and the Rechabites (Jer 35:1–3) were forbidden to drink wine.

Wine had many uses in the OT world. The “drink offering” was wine (Ex 29:40; Lv 23:13) and the worshiper regularly brought wine when offering sacrifice (1 Sm 1:24). In addition, a supply of wine was kept in the temple for sacrificial purposes (1 Chr 9:29). At times wine was used in helping the weak and sick (2 Sm 16:2; Prv 31:6). There is no mention of wine being administered to water to make it safe for drinking, as is commonly accepted. Modern examples of pollution were not common in the ancient world, although this problem appeared occasionally. Examples are myriad concerning the fresh wells, springs, and moving bodies of water in biblical times, and methods were available to purify any impure water.

Negative reactions to intemperate wine drinking abound in the OT. Isaiah condemned those who drank wine to excess (Is 28:1–8). Many admonitions of drinking wine in excess are given in the Scriptures (Prv 20:1; 21:17; 23:20, 21; 23:32–34).

The New Testament and Wine
The intertestamental period serves as a backdrop for the NT period. Rabbinic sources reveal that wine was mixed with water (usually two parts of water to one of wine) in the Mishna, but later Talmudic material gives a three to one mixture. Prior to the NT era, wine was a normal part of the Passover ritual. The Mishna mentions drinking four cups of wine during the Passover meal, of which three were mixed with water.

Wine in the NT was a fermented beverage that was mixed with various amounts of water. It was also mixed with gall (Mt 27:34) and myrrh (Mk 15:23), and unmixed referred to God’s wrath (Rv 14:10). Evidence strongly suggests that the wine used at the Lord’s Supper was a mixture of water and wine, probably three to one in agreement with the dictates of the Mishna. The phrase “fruit of the vine” (Mt 26:27–29) is often interpreted to mean fresh grape juice. However, fresh grape juice would be all but impossible to find.

The NT, as the OT, argues forcefully against the unrestrained use of wine. The biblical admonition is not to be drunk with wine (Eph 5:18; 1 Pt 4:3). Leaders in the church were to practice moderation in the use of wine (1 Tm 3:3, 8; Ti 1:7). In 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7, the KJV implies that no wine is to be taken, whereas in 1 Timothy 3:8 not much is to be taken. In reality all these verses should be translated in the sense “not to be addicted to wine.” Paul does urge believers to forego some things out of regard for an immature Christian’s conscience, which may be offended by a mature Christian eating meat and drinking wine that was once offered to idols (Rom 14:21).

- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:24 - Careful Selection of Elders (vv. 22-25)

These final two verses (1 Timothy 5:24-25) argue for the thorough vetting of leadership candidates within the local church. "Hasty, superficial assessments, whether positive or negative, are sometimes inaccurate, leading to the enlistment of unqualified men or the overlooking of those whose fine qualities are less obvious. With time, however, a man’s true colors will emerge to an astute observer." [ref]

quite evident, going before them to judgment (1 Timothy 5:24)
Their "sins are so plain that they receive instant condemnation" [ref] and thus are immediately disqualified for office. "Judgement" refers to "the judgment of God" [ref], "the church’s process for determining men’s suitability to serve as elders" [ref], or both.

their sins follow after (1 Timothy 5:24)
Some people's sins "dog their steps" [ref] -- they are not obvious at first but become apparent eventually.

"When their case is considered in order that a decision may be reached, they are found, after thorough examination, to be unfit for office. Before their case comes up, Timothy and perhaps several presbyters consider these men to be possible candidates for office. After thorough examination and the rendering of a judgment, things take on an altogether different aspect. The sins of these men have now been uncovered, so that, the judgment having been rendered, there is no longer any doubt about their unfitness for office." [ref]

"The whole emphasis in this instruction regarding choosing elders, according to the qualifications of [1 Timothy 3:1–7], is to be patient, fair, impartial, and pure (1 Timothy 5:21–25). Such an approach will yield the right choices." [ref]

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OPEN & HIDDEN SINS

At times, the desire to have a great speaker or a growing church has caused people to overlook warning signs in ministerial candidates. Or, when improprieties occur, people avoid taking action because they want to "keep the peace." Churches that have too quickly overlooked the possibility of wrongdoing in leaders who appeared so acceptable have had to endure shocking and shaming humiliation when extramarital relations, wife and child abuse, alcoholism, and mismanagement have been uncovered. But Paul also mentioned inward qualities in 6:3-10 that can be equally devastating to a ministry in the long run.

What questions must be answered by those taking leadership in your church? How are they held accountable? How are moral and ethical failures by leaders handled? Who would be the best person to initiate the development of such procedures?

- Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 5:25 - Careful Selection of Elders (vv. 22-25)

deeds that are good (1 Timothy 5:25)
"[S]ome people's good works may be conspicuous, while others' good works, though perhaps done behind the scenes, cannot remain hidden and will eventually reveal the true character of the doer. Many of the leadership qualities that Paul listed in [1 Timothy 3:2-7] fit in this category. Some, like hospitality and gentleness, create immediate and visible results, while others, like household management and guilelessness, only become apparent over a period of time." [ref]

Paul's "point is that thorough examination exposes all deeds -- good and bad, known and unknown. The application is that if Timothy and the church will not hastily install men into office, but carefully examine each elder candidate, his true character and fitness for office can eventually be determined." [ref]

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*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe